For those who commented on my recent rant/post: Thought you might like to know that The Alpha and I pretty much purged the anger out of our stewardship talk. Not until 11:30 the night before, mind you, but we did do it. Here's the script, very similar to what we delivered at two worship services this morning.
ALPHA: During this focus on our membership vows in the context of stewardship, The Typist and I have been talking over what we might say.
TYPIST: Two words that have come to mind are Vision and Commitment. For us, they go hand in hand.
ALPHA: The best description of vision I’ve seen is something Bobby Kennedy said, which I’ll paraphrase: “Some people look at the way the world is and say, ‘Why?’ I dream of the way the world could be and ask ‘Why not?”
TYPIST: Commitment is deeper than just being involved. The difference between "involvement" and "commitment" is like a ham-and-egg breakfast: the chicken was "involved"; the pig was "committed."
ALPHA: Commitment without Vision is drudgery. Why are you committed, and what are you committed to, if there’s no vision behind it?
TYPIST: And Vision without Commitment is just wishful thinking. How are you going to help vision become reality if you’re not willing to work toward it?
In our culture we don’t make vows very often – but vows are to be taken seriously. When my parents had me baptized as an infant, they made vows before God and the church about how they would raise me. Through those vows, they made a commitment to a vision for my life, and that’s one of the biggest reasons I stand before you today.
ALPHA: When we got married, we took vows. In our 13 years of marriage, we’ve encountered situations where the words, “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health” mattered. We’re committed to each other, and to a common vision for our marriage, and are stronger for it.
TYPIST: We have vision beyond our own household, though. We have a vision that a family will have enough to eat. That’s why we’re committed to the Food Share ministry.
ALPHA: We have a vision that young people will grow strong in their own personal faith. That’s why we’re committed to the youth ministry.
TYPIST: We had a vision of a new, well-built, and welcoming facility. That’s why we’re committed to the Capital Campaign.
ALPHA: We have a vision of God’s people transforming the world by making disciples of Jesus Christ. That’s why we’re committed to uphold the church through our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.
TYPIST: There was a time when we didn’t take our membership vows quite as seriously. But when we arrived at here nine years ago, something changed. It was in this place that we, as a family, made our first real commitment to a community of faith. Our lives are sustained by the prayers we vowed to pray. Our presence here is a requirement for us: If we are in town and well enough to leave the house, we are here on Sunday morning. We made a vow to be here. And when things have been less than comfortable here, we’ve stayed committed, waiting to see what God’s vision would be for us in this place.
ALPHA: Vowing to uphold the church with our gifts has helped us grow in generosity and faith. If you’d told us ten years ago that we would be tithing by the time we hit our early thirties, we wouldn’t have believed it. Yet, several years ago, we began to work up to giving that 10 percent, and here we are. It’s like physical exercise; you have to start where you are, and be willing to work harder to reach a higher goal. Even incremental improvement is still improvement. Working at our giving has helped us grow spiritually.
TYPIST: Our service has taken many forms here: things like working with the youth, teaching Sunday school, serving as a member of the choir and of MorningSong, sticking it out through committee meetings. Less-noticeable things, too, like setting up and taking down tables and chairs, folding bulletins, and making sure the lights get turned off after classes.
Our faith community means so much to us, and we are thankful that this church has helped us become willing to stay committed to a vision higher than our own, and we joyfully renew that commitment at every opportunity.